Jose Nino

Juniors Juliette Seive and Larisa Manescu learn about Planet Longhorn from organization members at Party on the Plaza Wednesday morning. Party on the Plaza, hosted by RecSports, is the largest student organization fair and also functions as one of the main fundraisers for the Student Emergency Fund.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Thousands of UT students crowded outside Gregory Gym Wednesday for Party on the Plaza, UT’s largest student organization fair of the year.

RecSports hosted what has grown to become UT’s largest organization fair since it started 20 years ago, with more than 200 organizations and 20,000 students attending, according to the Party on the Plaza Student Committee.

Jose Nino, president of Libertarian Longhorns, said Party on the Plaza gives lesser-known organizations an opportunity to expose their causes and recruit new members.

“It gives all sorts of groups that may not be well represented on the UT campus an opportunity to table and reach out to other members that didn’t realize they existed,” Nino said. “It gives each group equal representation and equal ability to be seen.”

Randall Ford, associate director of the Division of Recreational Sports, said the Student Emergency Fund receives the majority of its funding from Party on the Plaza. The Office of the Dean of Students uses the fund to assist UT students involved in extreme financial distress or other emergencies, such as an apartment fire.

“Party on the Plaza is one of the main fundraisers for that fund,” Ford said. “That fund is very important to students who are in need, whether it be for a trip home if they have had a family illness or something like a fire in West Campus where students need assistance with their apartment, or even if they have run into hard times and they just need help with an electricity bill or rent.”

According to the Student Emergency Fund web site, enrolled students may apply for a financial award of up to $250.

Party on the Plaza raises money through donations from participating student organizations and proceeds from a mechanical bull ride and a basketball shot tournament. Each year, the event collects between $4,000 and $5,000 and has raised more than $51,000 since 1999, Ford said.

Jesse Hernandez, chair of the Party on the Plaza Student Committee, said the event helps foster altruism among students.

“I think at every level, it is about students helping students,” Hernandez said. “Student organizations pledge a certain amount to be a part of the fair — it’s a donation-based pledge — and that money goes to the Student Emergency Fund. Also, the people involved are students. This year we had a 12-member student committee with the help of RecSports, but all of this happened because of students.”

Nino said it is important for students to be informed of Party on the Plaza’s donations to the Student Emergency Fund.

“I think it is important that people know about this so that people know where their money is going, and so that they feel like they have a genuine interest in the well-being of the student body.”

Printed on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 as: High turnout for fair

The UT Mises Circle, a new organization founded by students Michael Goldstein, George McHugh and Jose Nino, focuses on economics in terms of “praxeology,” the logic of human action. Rather than using models or data from past events to interpret economic activity, as is often the case with conventional economics, praxeology is centered around a simple concept: “humans act purposefully.”

“Praxeology does not investigate why people do things, what people should do or what people have done — those investigations belong to psychology, ethics and history,” McHugh, a management information systems senior, said. “Rather, praxeology asks, ‘What are the implications of people’s actions?’ Basically, the study of common sense and, thus, economics.”

The namesake of the group, Ludwig von Mises, was an Austrian-born economist and one of the founders of the Austrian School of Economics, which according to Nino, a history senior and president of Libertarian Longhorns, “is free-market oriented discipline that sought to explain recessions and other related economic crashes through the expansion of credit that is characteristic of practically all central banking systems.”

Plans to form the Mises Circle have been in circulation since spring 2011, but did not become a reality until last semester when the group officially registered as a student organization. While the founders and many members also participate in Libertarian Longhorns, which explores similar economical theory, the group does not officially endorse any political position and focuses exclusively on the economics.

“Economics may be known as ‘the dismal science,’ but you wouldn’t know it based on the enthusiasm of the students [in our organization],” Goldstein, a computer science sophomore, said. “Even more, very few of the members are economics students at the University.”

The diverse student make-up of the organization is largely due in part to the unconventional economic principals from which the Mises Circle finds its basis. According to Goldstein, the economic thought the organization uses is often overshadowed by more “mainstream” economic teachings, such as those of John Maynard Keynes.

However, the works of Mises have recently gained prominence in the headlines through Congressman Ron Paul’s frequent references to Austrian economics during Republican debates.

“In what little time is given to Paul in the debates, he will sometimes make some Austrian economic references with regards to various economic policy prescriptions,” Nino said.

One such prescription would be the recent economic recession, which has rekindled interest in these often overshadowed economic teachings. As explained in the 2009 Wall Street Journal article, “The Man Who Predicted the Depression,” Mises is said to have predicted the economic turmoil of the 1920s, even going as far to turn down a job offer with the Viennese bank Kreditanstalt, claiming that “a great crash is coming, and I don’t want my name in any way connected with it.”

“Only the Austrian economists understood and continue to understand what truly causes the booms and busts of the business cycles and how they can be fixed and avoided,” Goldstein said.

As UT does not offer a course specifically over Mises’ principles, the Mises Circle presents students with the opportunity to discuss the Austrian school of economics through means of group discussion, presentations and relevant readings.

“Our ultimate objective for our group is to have a class that covers Austrian economics at UT,” McHugh said.

While the plan is still in its early stages, the Mises Circle hopes to eventually gather enough interest for a course or seminar on Austrian economics through student involvement in their organization.

“Many people are starting to question the Keynesian economic establishment, its economic models and policy prescriptions,” Nino said. “Our goal at UT is to provide UT students [with] a legitimate forum that discusses Austrian economic principles.”

Printed on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 as: UT Mises Circle founded on humanist economic approach